Book Review: The Greatest College Health Guide You Never Knew You Needed

From time to time, we like to review some of the books available for parents of college students. There is a wealth of literature available to help parents cope with the transition to college and the changes that occur throughout the college years.  We’ve offered some lists of recommended reading, and there is something for everyone. Visit our Resources page for suggestions of important books for college parents and their students.

The Greatest College Health Guide You Never Knew You Needed by Jill and Dave Henry is subtitled How to Manage Food, Booze, Stress, Sex, Sleep, and Exercise on Campus. That covers a lot of ground! Many students take their health, and all that it entails, for granted. This book will help them understand how to improve and maintain their health and how better health can lay the foundation for their success.

As high school coaches, the Jill and Dave Henry know their students, and they know where the pitfalls are. They know the kinds of questions students have, and they anticipate the excuses students make. They’ve been there themselves and they share many of their own stories, in an often humorous way. The book contains a great deal of vital information (with 233 footnotes!) but students will relate because it isn’t preachy (or at least acknowledges the preachiness when it’s needed).

One of the helpful features of this book comes at the end of each chapter. After explaining the problems and how to address them, the authors include a section, “For When You Forget.” This recognition that students will slip up and that good health is an ongoing process will help many students stay with the challenge.

Students are not likely to sit down and read this book cover-to-cover, but they can easily turn to relevant chapters when the need arises. Students will appreciate the practical approach to the topics that matter to them. The authors share, “Taking care of yourself is a big job comprised of small behaviors.” The Greatest College Health Guide presents healthy behaviors to students in bite sized pieces – all digestible.

In addition to specific advice, this book empowers students to take control of their lives every day. “It just so happens that the little things you do for yourself every single day end up dictating who you are and where you’re headed much more than a fascination with the future does.” And the authors acknowledge the reality that this is a never-ending, ongoing process, “… prepare to spend a lot of time getting off track, starting over, and then getting off track again… If you never quit on yourself, then you never actually fail. You’re ready.”

You’ll want to share this book with your student – or maybe just tuck it into their suitcase when they head off. They may not think they need it at first, but they’ll be glad to have it when they’re ready.

About the authors:

Jill and Dave Henry met coaching high school sports in Los Angeles and have been working with teens for nearly fifteen years. With every graduating class, they’ve fielded their student athletes’ concerns about the transition to college. Leveraging their professional backgrounds (Jill is an award-winning statistics teacher; Dave is an Emmy-nominated editor and television producer), they’ve created a heartwarmingly funny resource to help every graduating class enjoy college without sacrificing their health.

What the authors have to say about the book:

“The Greatest College Health Guide You Never Knew You Needed was inspired by our work with high school athletes, particularly the seniors, who confessed that they were worried about the transition to campus life.

Our hope was that by sharing honest tales of our struggles, along with advice from hundreds of students across the country, we could bring attention to the fact that college is hard for everyone. That it’s normal to struggle. And that it’s still possible to have fun and take care of yourself.”

“Remember that you will never be perfect, and there will be times when you stop trying altogether. There will be plenty of things grabbing at your attention and energy and your health and happiness will, at some point, take a back seat as a result. That’s okay. All you have to do is take note and start again. The payoff is always worth the effort, and this book will be here to remind you how to get going again if (or when) you need a refresher.

Everything up until college can feel like traveling on a narrow trail. Guardrails and obstacles box you in from both sides, providing a pretty unambiguous path. And then one day, the trail opens into a field – a large flower-filled, mountain-framed pasture of grass that looks utterly spectacular from the edge. Full of endless routes and possibilities. That’s life, and it starts with college for many people.

If you haven’t found your big open field of possibility yet, you will soon. You may be excited, or you may be terrified, but what really matters is that it’s time to move forward. We wrote this book to help you get through that field and to the other side. We’re not giving you an exact path to follow; you must determine what works for you. The beauty of independence lies in the mystery of exploration. However, it helps to have a general sense of direction so you can avoid the thorn bushes, gopher holds, and steep cliffs. . . We hope we’ve provided you with just enough guidance that your trip across is safe and smooth, but still full of choice and adventure. May you land on the other side feeling strong, confident, happy, and with a solid foundation in place for the future that lies ahead.”

What others have to say about the book:

“Jill and Dave’s personal anecdotes make this guide relatable and their advice is practical, holistic, as well as entertaining. They get it.”

  Hannah Kearney, Olympic God Medalist & Certified Personal Trainer

“Finally, here is a book that feels genuinely authentic about what students face. . . A wonderfully smart, funny, highly readable and relatable book.”

Martha Hart Johns, Psychology Professor, Health Educator, and Researcher

“One of the best health/wellness books I’ve read. The authors are vulnerable, relatable, and sometimes self-deprecating, and their personal stories woven in throughout bring to life every topic they write about. According to Jill and Dave Henry, good health is fluid and a work in progress: and it’s never too late – or too early – to start a lifetime of good habits.”

Helaine Knapp, Founder & CEO, City Row

“Delivered in a voice that feels more like a conversation with wise older cousins offering advice through personal stories and mishaps, the Henrys balance witty banter with endearing sincerity as they discuss some of the most common challenges college students experience.”

Crystal Cyr, College Student Affairs Professional, M.A.


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